Confidence Man – Tilt review: Hyperactive hijinks are in need of a crowd

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R

emember when the biggest act in the country was Scissor Sisters? Male and female dual singers, wild outfits, silly stage names, campness everywhere – simpler times. There’s a similar vibe about Brisbane’s Confidence Man, a jokey side project from four people in different bands that took off after effusive support from the influential Australian radio station Triple J. They call themselves Janet Planet, Sugar Bones, Clarence McGuffie and Reggie Goodchild, and have proved highly appealing on the festival circuit thanks to Planet and Bones’s enthusiastic but unpolished dancing and the latter pair’s habit of maintaining anonymity using black beekeeper hats. Noel Gallagher is a prominent fan – they’re supporting him around the UK this summer – and they have also told tales of having U2 round for dinner.

A debut album in 2018, proudly titled Confident Music for Confident People, kept the beats funky and saw Planet delivering her semi-spoken vocals in a mannered American accent, like an influencer in between selfies. The opening song on this follow-up, Woman, sounds initially like she’s becoming a shade more serious. Assertive lines such as “Don’t call me the spark/I’m the fire and the flame,” accompanied by retro synths, could place her beside the feminist dance pop of last year’s highly acclaimed album by Self Esteem.

By the third song, What I Like, any sense that there could be greater substance here has vanished. Cow bells clatter while Sugar Bones chants: “All the girls say ooh/All the boys say aah/Everybody in the house is getting down right now.” Toy Boy is a similarly vacuous call to the dancefloor: “With a face like that there’s no conversation/With an ass like that there’s no hesitation.”

But once you’re on said dancefloor, there’s plenty to keep you there. The dominant sound is now classic house music, with Holiday floating along over zingy synths and a nostalgic bassline. Trumpet Song mixes sampled breakbeats and echoing horns, while Relieve the Pressure finds Planet singing in breathy French. When they get too excitable, they can irritate, as on the shoutier Angry Girl and Kiss N Tell, but the lighter touch on Break It Bought It better suits Planet’s snappy lyrics.

It’s not really designed to be experienced at home, of course. There couldn’t be a band less suited to lockdown listening. Now that there are opportunities to watch them from within a sweaty, writhing crowd, these fun, hyperactive songs will soon make a lot more sense.

(Heavenly)

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